City Votes in Favor of 3 ‘Bed-Bug’ Nurses
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Free nurses for public health, no thanks. Free nurses for bed
bugs, yes please.
A city committee chastened by public and political blowback
stemming from a previous decision to reject nurses from the
province has apparently learned the error of its ways. On Tuesday,
the budget committee voted to accept funds from Queen's Park for
three permanent nurses trained to tackle the underlying health
issues associated with tenants and homeowners overrun with bed
Currently, the city's Board of Health has been carving off money
from other programs to combat the growing problems posed by the
rice-sized pests, a funding model "which is not sustainable," said
David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health.
The Mayor and his allies on city council have been reticent to
accept provincial money for public health, arguing that the city is
left to hold the tab when Queen's Park shuts off the tap.
Councillor Doug Ford underscored those concerns on Tuesday
before introducing a motion that would ensure the bed-bug nurses
come at no cost to the city and that the positions would be
eliminated as soon as provincial funding dries up.
The motion would prevent the city from being "the bad guys when
the money runs out," said Mr. Ford.
Committee chair Mike Del Grande said they had received "3,000
e-mails" protesting the city's last rejection of provincial nursing
"We listen even though people claim that we don't," he said. "I
think a motion like [Mr. Ford's] would have been probably more
helpful [in the previous case]."
The $255,000 in provincial funding is part of Premier Dalton
McGuinty's pledge to hire 9,000 nurses province-wide. In June, the
Executive Committee chaired by the mayor voted to defer provincial
money for two public health nurses indefinitely, despite assurances
that the provincial funding would be ongoing. "Who is going to be
on the hook for it once the provincial funding goes? We are," Mayor
Rob Ford said after the meeting. "We have enough people in public
health right now."
Mr. Del Grande said that while he appreciated the most recent
provincial offer, he isn't wild about the idea of dropping all
those positions on municipal books. "We're concerned that we're not
hung to dry," he said.
The public health nurses will focus on the underlying causes of
bed-bug infestation. Dr. McKeown said that mental-health issues
often account for hoarding and sanitation issues that attract the
"The people who have the most severe infestations, whose
infestations are causing the biggest problem, particularly in
multi-unit dwellings, are people who have mental health problems,
disabilities, substance abuse problems, and aren't able to deal
with the infestations themselves," he said.
Despite the doctor's reasoning, both Mr. Del Grande and Mr. Ford
also stated their preference for exterminators rather than
"I think monies would be better allocated to have something
towards actual extermination," Mr. Del Grande said. "Will a public
health nurse actually stomp on a bed bug?"
The decision will go before Mayor Ford's Executive Committee